Be a Thinker

Warp speed. That’s how I feel like most of us live our lives. It’s as if technology has become an extension of our body. Not only are we, as a culture, enamored by it and compulsively addicted to it (how many times did you check a social networking site or your email today?), but I would even argue that technology has even altered the way we think, ponder and truly connect with one another.

Sure, our ability to get ahold of someone instantaneously can be useful and convenient at times, but I fear that, as a culture, we’ve become so accustomed to it that we no longer value (or even have) face-to-face, heart-to-heart, community building conversations and we’ve lost the ever-so-important ability to think for ourselves. Instead, we “Google”, poll a social networking site or text. It’s almost as if we have lost faith in our own ability to discover. It seems as if we think that the answers to just about everything in life are already out there- all we have to do is find them (usually online) or make a decision based on popular opinion.

When we were in Virginia a while ago, we went to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. It is one of my favorite places. While there, I was browsing through some books in the bookstore and found a collection of writings from our founding fathers and other famous historical figures. Reading their works offers a delightful glimpse into these mens’ minds. These men were brilliant. Their writings were not minute by minute or hourly updates about their feelings. They are not a list of simple “likes” and “dislikes”. Instead, their writings are, most often, detailed analysis and responses to the issues of their day.

These men were thinkers. They may have been well read, but they didn’t mindlessly inhale (and believe) all they were reading. They thought about the content and questioned it. They had points. They built arguments. I have to say, the letters they exchanged with each other contained far more depth than most of the essays my students wrote when I was teaching at the college level.

Today “deep thinkers” are labeled and most are isolated in the world of academia or think tanks. Sadly, the rest of us are often too consumed by one form (or multiple forms at once) of media or another to use our brains and think critically about the lives we live and the world we are living in. We juggle numerous technologies to stay connected to everyone, but I would argue that most people are more emotionally isolated (and often more socially awkward) than ever.

I don’t want to end this blog on such a dire note. We are not automated robots. We are not computers. We are people. Turn off the television. Have technology free hours. Limit your use of the Internet. Next time you have a question, think about it. Try whatever you come up with a solution, and give yourself the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Experience life with all its ups and downs and moments of quiet and noise. Don’t fill your spare seconds searching for companionship with an electronic gizmo. Spend some time pondering. Have tea or coffee times. Meet and get to know your neighbors and others outside your usual group of friends. Spend time outdoors. Watch raindrops run down your window pane. Cherish life don’t escape from it.

*This post is shared on Real Food Wednesdays

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